Exercising The City

The city dog, unless he is ill or very old, needs to be taken out at least twice a day. This exercise period is a must and it should not be offered as a reward for being good while you are out. Dogs are affected mentally and physically by their confinement and will store up excess energy. Unless you give the dog ample exercise, he'll get rid of this energy by chewing the rugs, gnawing on the furniture, racing up and down the apartment, and other erratic behavior.

Toy and small dogs do not require the vigorous exercise needed by the larger dogs. But they still need to be taken out, if only to "shake a leg." Otherwise, these small dogs will become fat, lazy and may develop into behavior problems.

A ride down in the elevator and a quick trip out to the street to evacuate his bowels is not exercise for the dog. It might be for an old or infirm dog. But for the average healthy dog that has been penned up all day, this quick trip wouldn't even get him out of breath. Your dog should have an outing of at least a half hour each trip, longer if possible. During these outings, the dog should have a chance to run and jump. Admittedly, there may not be much of an opportunity to allow the dog to run in the average city. Running him on the leash will help, but he'll have to keep his speed geared down to yours. If there's an empty lot nearby and you can use it, take along a ball or stick and let the dog chase it. He'll get plenty of exercise this way and he'll enjoy the game. Or, if the roof of your apartment house has a guard or parapet, and you have permission, take the dog on the roof and exercise him. In the absence of a roof playground or empty lot, you can still exercise the dog by getting him to jump. Hold a stick or ball over his head and encourage him to leap for it. This is good exercise and will help release his pent-up energy. Be sensible about the form of exercise. Select a game or exercise that is well within the dog's ability to perform. Don't tax his strength or yours. There's no point in forcing an old or obese dog to run and jump to the point of collapse. Nor should a pregnant female be made to play rough or hazardous games.

Make the exercise period a time of fun. It can also be a time when you and the dog momentarily forget the restrictions of city life. When you do make them pleasant, the dog will look forward to these outings. He will learn to save his energies for the exercise or play periods, instead of squandering them by raising a rumpus in the apartment while you are at work.

There is a place and need for dogs in the city. Some dogs adapt very easily to city life, others never do adapt and are misfits. As long as you recognize that there are restrictions in raising a dog in the city and try to compensate for them, the chances are you will be successful as a city dog owner. The city dog is totally dependent on you. In your hands are the means to help him to adjust to or become a casualty of urban living. To answer the question posed at the beginning of this chapter: it all depends on how you keep a dog in the city.

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